The Federal Government has pledged to complete the construction of satellite Assembly, Integration and Testing centre at the National Space Research and Development Agency.
Minister of Science and Technology,Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, made the pledge while inaugurating some projects at the campus of the satellite agency along Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road in Abuja on Wednesday.
The AIT is the facility for the manufacture of satellite and it is believed that the acquisition of the centre by NASRDA would propel the agency on its quest to acquire the capacity for local manufacturing of satellites.
Already, the country has missed the 2018 target for the local manufacturing of the satellite without having to refer to foreign manufacturers.
Although the country had put a total of five satellites in the orbit since its space odyssey began in 1999, none of the satellites had been manufactured locally. Even an earth observation satellite, NigeriaSat-X, that was reportedly designed by Nigerians was manufactured in China.
The minister said that the construction of the AIT was a top priority to the Federal Government and pledged that it would be completed whether he remained Minister of Science and Technology or not.
Onu spoke in response to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof Robert Boroffice, who expressed a desire that the minister would move up in government to be able to influence more projects to the science and technology sector.
The projects inaugurated by the minister were a space museum, a planetarium, Space Incubation Centre, the Institute of Space Science and Engineering, a sports complex and Space Environment Laboratory.
The minister said that the space museum and the planetarium, as well as the Institute of Space and Science and Engineering, were very important to the government because of the role they would play in preparing the next generation of space scientists in the country.
He said, “I am happy that 20 years ago, this very important decision was taken to begin space research and development. And for 20 years, NASRDA has done so much for our country. There are so many achievements of NASRDA that we cannot talk about here.
“NASRDA has had a very positive impact on agriculture, environment, industry, communications, and defence. So, I am very proud of the achievements of NASRDA.
“I want to assure Nigerians that the investments we are making in space research and development are very important investments that will give us great returns to gain more than the investments we are making.”
He added, “Today, I am happy that this agency has an institute that is affiliated with the African University of Science and Technology here in Abuja. They can produce PHDs, people with doctor of philosophy degrees in space science.
“Two of the six projects to be inaugurated today are very special to me as a person because as a nation, the museum and planetarium are very important to us as we have to prepare our young people to take over from us.”
Speaking at the event, Director-General of NASRDA, Prof Seidu Mohammed, said space technology remained the most powerful tool and driving force of developed nations across the globe.
Mohammed added that the space agency was irrevocably committed to the continuous pursuit of space capabilities as an essential tool for the nation’s sustainable development.